A former two-term governor of Illinois was denied a shorter prison sentence Tuesday after making his case for why a federal judge should show leniency and release him early. Rod Blagojevich, who in 2003 became the 40th governor of the Prairie State, must serve out the remainder of his 14-year prison sentence, the judge ruled.
Blagojevich, who began his career in politics in 1986 when he became an assistant state's attorney in the Cook County, was convicted in June of 2011 on most of the 23 counts of corruption charges for committing mail and wire fraud and solicitation of bribery. Six months later he received his sentence. Three months after that he began serving his sentence in Englewood Federal Correctional Institution in Colorado, CNN reported.
But how did he arrive at this point, you ask? Here are a handful of facts to help you better understand Blagojevich's checkered history in public service.
After becoming Illinois' first Democratic governor in three decades, Blagojevich served all of his first term without issue. It was only toward the start of his second term in December of 2008 when he was taken into federal custody and charged with corruption for "conspiring to obtain personal financial benefits" over the appointment of the U.S. Senate seat vacated by then-Sen. Barack Obama, who had just become the president-elect of the United States.
It would be more than a year later when the Illinois House of Representatives voted nearly unanimously for Blagojevich to be impeached, setting up his eventual removal from office. Damning evidence of his alleged malfeasance surfaced, including a tape on which the former governor allegedly proclaimed in part, "I've got this thing, and it's f--king golden. I'm just not giving it up for fucking nothing." The words were allegedly said in reference to his ability to see Obama's senate seat to the highest bidder.
Months later he would formally plead not guilty to the 16 felony counts brought against him by a grand jury. His trial began in June of 2010 and he was found guilty in August of that year for making false statements to investigators, but the jury couldn't decide on the other charges, paving the way for his ultimate retrial.
But it was Blagojevich's activities away from politics and the court house that seemingly caused a comparable stir to his corruption case. In the midst of it all, he found the time to appear on morning news shows the day his impeachment hearing started; appeared in a Chicago comedy show called "Rod Blagojevich Superstar;" he released his autobiography; and, perhaps most inexplicable of all, he starred on "Celebrity Apprentice" in 2011 before Donald Trump fired him.
Blagojevich was ultimately vindicated a bit last summer when the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals concluded it was never proven he tried to sell Obama's senate seat, but he was never granted a rehearing to request his sentence be overturned.
All of which led up to Tuesday, when Blagojevich apologized in court for his "mistakes" to no avail as U.S. District Judge James Zagel sympathized with the former governer's admitted regrets but still upheld his original sentence, NBC Chicago reported.
"I experience very real sadness when I think of my family and I blame myself for that," Blagojevich said Tuesday. "...Trying to make amends for that."
Blagojevich's projected release date from prison is in 2024.